Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season due to his involvement with Biogenesis. It comes as no surprise to myself and many others that the proof finally came out that Braun has been using PEDs. I never once believed he was as innocent as he stated after having his appeal of his 50 game suspension in 2012 upheld on a technicality.
I believe Braun is lucky to only get a 65 game suspension. I think he’s very lucky that MLB is once again “going easy” on PED users because they’d rather take a deal with a guilty player than risk having any suspension overturned (again) on appeal. MLB wants to clean up the game, but as usual, they aren’t willing to put their foot down and make the punishment for this crime (and yes, using PEDs while not under doctor’s orders is a federal crime) because they simply want to have the appearance that they’re “cleaning up the game.” With all the recent news involving Biogenesis, it clearly shows that the game is nowhere near being clean – doctors, scientists, and players will always be one (if not more) steps ahead of any testing available. The other players affected by Biogenesis need to realize what Braun’s acceptance of the deal means – the evidence is overwhelming so if you’re a part of it, you need to make the best deal you possibly can. I’m assuming that as part of the deal, MLB will not release its findings to the public (or at least just the bare minimum needed to satisfy the media). Just like when Pete Rose accepted the lifetime ban – sometimes it’s better to accept the punishment if it means the whole story will not come out. So, I’m assuming over the next few weeks, every player involved with this will all be accepting similar deals. Based on recent reports, the evidence against Alex Rodriguez is even greater than it was against Ryan Braun, so I’m betting A-Rod’s people are begging MLB for the same deal that Braun received – especially because just like Braun, this season is a lost cause already for A-Rod so serving the remainder of it on suspension only costs them money, it doesn’t really cost them on-the-field numbers.
When will players like Braun learn? It’s not the use of PEDs that get these guys in trouble from a PR standpoint. I believe we all know why they use – it’s so ingrained in the sport and they all feel they need to use simply to compete. It’s the cover-up that destroys them! Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte did it the right way – once it was shown they used, they didn’t make excuses, they didn’t throw anyone else under the bus, they simply admitted what they did and the press and the fans have all moved on. While their admittance will prevent them from ever reaching the Hall of Fame, it has allowed them to at least remain in the good graces of the fans and the media. Players like Braun, McGwire, and other athletes like Lance Armstrong, have all shown us that you can deny all you want, eventually either the proof will come out or you’ll simply finally admit to using. Lance Armstrong and Ryan Braun both threw anyone and everyone under the bus that dared to fight them or say they were guilty of using. Lives were ruined because they so adamantly denied using PEDs – and in Braun’s case, a man lost his job over a technicality and a bad collection process with Braun basically saying the man tainted his collection which resulted in his positive test, even though he fully knew he was guilty as sin of using at the time.
The Milwaukee Brewers fans that sent Dino Laurenzi (he was the collector that Braun threw under the bus) death threats all need to apologize as well. It’s great to believe in an athlete, but remember, not a single athlete is a role model or perfect – they will all do anything to protect themselves and their image. In this day and age, every player should be considered guilty until proven innocent – it’s just the way of the sporting world today. Until every single player is tested (only something like 5% of the players are tested), every single player is under suspicion (some are simply under less suspicion than others). All players will use anything to their advantage and then will deny until they die to protect that. When someone has a test show a 20 to 1 testosterone ratio and during the appeal they never actually fight the results of that test, but instead simply fight the collection process, you know someone is guilty, they are just doing their best to get off on a technicality.
As a sports fan, it saddens me that this is where sports has gone. I would love to see all sports clean and to know that every game is played on a level playing field. However, reality says this will never happen. I yearn for the day when a player gets busted for using PEDs and instead of denying everything, simply says “I used because I wanted to be a better player for my team and my teammates and to make money.” I do believe baseball is cleaner today than it was a decade ago, however, every time a player is announced as testing positive, I’m not surprised.
The MLB Players Association is doing a better job now in trying to get the game clean. They are pushing the players associated with Biogenesis and PEDs in general to accept MLB punishment which is great because in the past they were the driving force behind there being no testing in the game. What they now need to do is to work with MLB to increase the punishments and if they truly want to see the game clean, they need to also do something to allow the team’s the ability to terminate any contract of a player that tests positive for PEDs or violates the PED section of the drug agreement. This is the only real way to clean up the game – hit the players where it hurts them the most, their wallet. If any player can have their guaranteed contract torn up over PEDs, I’m betting less players would use. If Braun or ARod could have had their long-term multi-million dollar contracts voided, I’m betting they would have never stepped foot into Tony Bosch’s “anti-aging” clinic or sent him a single email or made a single phone call to him. Players use PEDs mainly for the money – if that money can be taken away, the payoff in using is gone.